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Posts posted by FishNerd

  1. Hi! I know a lot of people who use Adobe Illustrator to make figures for publications, but unless you have access to this for free through your university or you can get a copy through your advisor you probably don't want to pay for Illustrator.

    A lot of people in my program, including myself, use Inkscape to create figures for publication since it is basically a program very similar to Illustrator but free. When I was first playing around in Inkscape I found a good series of Youtube videos on how to use Inkscape for creating scientific figures. These tutorials may not be as helpful for creating drawings like the example you provide above, but I thought I would share the link below.


  2. 20 hours ago, Sigaba said:

    This well-intended guidance has the potential to lead to catastrophic consequences. What is an acceptable practice for a BTDT who is either the "dean" of a field and/or writing for a general audience may not be a best practice for an up and coming historian writing for an academic journal.

    I apologize if the advice I gave isn't the best for academic writing in history since I am not familiar with the field. What I thought I was suggesting didn't come through in what I actually wrote because several of the things you mention Sigaba sounds like what I was thinking especially what I quote of your response below.

    20 hours ago, Sigaba said:

    If you research/skim/read the scholarly literature correctly (or if you just get lucky), you will find at least one article or book chapter that will provide a blue print for what you're attempting to do now. You will find that if you set up your introductory and historiographical remarks efficiently, the subsequent comparison of your findings to others can be equally efficient.

    This is what I was really trying to get at in my response. I would look to the academic articles for guidance on citing rules since that is the type of article the OP is writing rather than looking for citing guidance from a piece written for a more generalized audience since that is not the type of piece the OP is writing. In my field I basically only cite academic articles or books and the citation rules are pretty much standard across all my sources so I didn't think my generalized comment could be interpreted very differently for history. Again, sorry if my advice did not hold true for a different field since I am not used to citing rules varying widely across a variety of sources since that doesn't occur in the sources I encounter in my field.

  3. I don't have any advice but I definitely understand how you're feeling. I'm so nervous about getting my masters thesis published that I keep putting it off. I also have an opportunity to present my thesis research to a much different audience than I have in the past. I'm super nervous that reviewers or outside eyes are going say that I did something completely wrong and my whole study will be a wash. I'm not really sure how to move past it but I just wanted to say I also sympathize. I just know I need to push past my nervousness because I know at heart my thesis is worthy of publication and I need to do sooner rather than later. Not sure how I'm gonna do that other than pushing all my nerves to the side and just going for it!

  4. Okay so I am not a historian but I too faced similar questions when including citations for my masters thesis. I don't know that I can answer all of your questions but I do have a few suggestions.

    On 8/26/2018 at 12:39 AM, Ranke212 said:

    For example, if I discuss the negotiation of a treaty between country A and country B and country B manages to improve the terms of the treaty for itself during the negotiations, this is something that I can show with primary sources (and probably do so more accurately than the previous literature), but others might have mentioned before. In this case, would I need to acknowledge everyone that has mentioned the fact that country B managed to improve the treaty terms? Could I be accused of using the ideas of others without acknowledgement if I do not cite them again for every minor point even if have cited them at the start of the paper?

    I think if you acknowledge these other's contributions at the start of your paper that that will cover a lot of your responsibility in citing them. In the case above where you could clearly talk about this treaty negotiation with primary sources I think that will be sufficient when you are talking about this negotiation. However, if there is part of your argument that has been crucially influenced by one of your secondary sources then you should definitely cite them again.

    On 8/26/2018 at 12:39 AM, Ranke212 said:

    At the same time, I think that having to acknowledge every parallel with other historians would mean a great increase in footnotes and practically make it impossible to write about events that have been covered by several historians before. I also do not see historians acknowledging such similar points.

    I would say to follow others in your field. If other historians are not acknowledging similar points I think you could probably follow their lead.

    I do also have a general suggestion that if you find you have a ton (over 4 or 5) of footnotes for any one point you could always pair it down to the most important sources. I think as long as you acknowledge that this point has been brought up in the literature before you don't have to cite every source that has made this point. I've been given advice that it is sometimes good to find the first source that used this point to cite and also include a more recent source as well in the sources that you cite. Also keep in mind that if your advisor is good and reads your paper thoroughly they will likely flag areas that you actually need a citation or instances where you have overcited. They should be able to give you a lot of guidance on all of these questions you have posed.

  5. On 8/24/2018 at 12:28 PM, gradschoolprobs said:

    I just finished making the powerpoint for my Masters defense happening in next few days, but what happens on the actual day?

    1. Do you thank people involved at the beginning or end of the presentation?

    2. What kind of questions will the committee ask?

    3. Is it appropriate to give thank you cards and flowers for the committee at the end of the presentation?

    4. Do I shake hands with people? Do I treat it as a business meeting??


    Not sure if this answer will be in time before you defend but:

    1. This is really a matter of preference. I've seen both done for a Master's defense.

    2. Like I and others have said in this thread your committee will likely ask questions directly related to your thesis and probably will not ask you any off the wall questions (unless you have the oddball professor who likes to see if you truly are a Master of whatever degree you are getting). That's not to say they won't ask you about important concepts, ideas or terminology that is directly related to your thesis but they probably won't go beyond that.

    3. I personally would think that if you want to do anything like that, that you should do that with them one-on-one after your defense at some point. But if you want to do it after the presentation you can do that but I'm not sure many people do.

    4. Typically after a masters defense the student answers the questions posed to them and then in my case I was ask to leave the room while they talked about how I did and whether I passed. So no it was not business like and there were no shaking hands with people during my experience. But it could be different at different schools so if you have the opportunity to ask a student who has defended that might be your best option for some of your questions.


  6. On 8/17/2018 at 7:37 AM, Halek said:

    I've been moved in a for a few weeks now and I just feel....lonely? I've been trying to meet people but I get so socially exhausted because there is no one here at all that I can fall back on for "real deep emotional talks". I also met my cohort yesterday and I had the same problem I always have with making friends in my field: all anyone wants to talk about is biology and their work. And when they do want to talk about their work they want to pretend they know exactly what they're doing. My dude, we haven't even started the program yet. It's the blind leading the blind out here. I know I need friends here. I know I need to put energy in to make friends. But damn that amount of energy is so high I feel like I'm getting nowhere.

    Also: it's very hard to find a Dungeons and Dragons group here and that's getting me down. 

    I'm also in biology and I have noticed at times that us biologists do tend to first focus on talking about our work but I found that that went away after the first few weeks of my masters. So it might just be that people in your program are comfortable taking about their work right now but will be willing to have deeper conversations later.

    I am also one who likes to have "deep emotional talks" as you put it and I find that if I bring up those subjects early in conversing with a new person I just draw attention to my nature of being a pretty open book when it comes to more serious conversation topics. Kinda joke about it if I need to. I also let my conversation partner get to opening up to the same degree on their own time. I try not to press them into sharing to the same degree I do because I understand not everyone is comfortable with talking so seriously until they've spent more time with a person. Usually it works for me because at least I have someone to listen to the deeper topics I want to talk about and then eventually the person will feel comfortable enough themselves to share more openly as well.

    As for when people talking about their work pretend to know everything, I think that's pretty typical at the start of a program. People don't want to make a first impression of being inept or behind other members of their cohort. Just remember that everyone is probably nervous to be starting this new thing and everyone probably has some imposter syndrome that they are trying to cover up.

    Also as for D&D - do you have a group you could Skype/phone in on if you can't find a new group in your new location? I know it's not the same but it could get you through until you do eventually find a group.

  7. On 8/13/2018 at 11:19 AM, indecisivepoet said:

    I think by using any card as a debit card, not accruing interest, and not relying on bonus schemes to work in our favour, we should be fine.

    This is the advice my dad gave me when I got my first credit card and I've always stuck with it because it's great advice. This is how I continue to treat my credit card because I really only have one to build credit and if I happen to get some cash back with this new card then hooray! 

  8. 21 hours ago, indecisivepoet said:

    I liked the sound of this -- being able to set groceries, bills, etc as bonus categories -- but I looked it up and got scared off by these reviews... you'll have to let me know what you think of it!

    I honestly had not researched cash back credit cards because I just got this one as an upgrade to my first credit card through US Bank so I was pleasantly surprised to see I would even have the choice to try and get cash back. So I didn't read any reviews but I'm not concerned because I didn't have to officially apply for this card or anything. I'm just happy it has double the credit limit that my previous card had since I will be needing to buy furniture to furnish my new apartment. But hopefully I can make the categories work in my favor and get a little cash back in the process but if not oh well, I just needed a card I could put furniture on until I get my first paycheck in my new location.

  9. I'm not sure how I like the card yet since I've only had it for a month but I have a cash back card through US Bank. It's the Cash + Visa Signature Card and I thought I'd mention it since it has the option to choose cash back categories in areas you seem interested in getting cash back from. You can get 2% cash back on groceries and 5% on home utilities and a few other categories too (I think gas is another option for the 2% category option and cell phone bills I think is an option for the 5%). You also get 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases and there is no annual fee. This is my first credit card of this kind after my introductory credit card I also got in undergrad when I had no credit score so it might be a good option for you. You can also change your categories every couple months (every quarter I believe?) if you want.

    Like I said I've only had it for a month so I don't know how much cash back I'll really get from it with regular usage in my cash back categories, but I already have $6 cash back so that's something I guess haha!

  10. On 7/13/2018 at 12:06 AM, Psygeek said:

    Don't worry. Plus, my former department had a general 'complaining' culture. Basically what everyone did was just constantly complain about everything and everyone. So you never know what is really going on. I felt the majority of complaints were not justified, because most of the times students could just step up to fix the issues, but OK.

    Gosh when I read this I so identified with it since my previous department could really be this way as well. I would sometimes get sucked into it and it would make me feel like things were really a lot worse than they actually were, but once I was able to kinda break away from the complaining culture I was so much happier and productive. When you are constantly being surrounded by complaints its hard to see anything positive and you get sucked in to complain about things in your experiences. If anyone else is in this type of environment I recommend breaking out of it and making changes yourself because I find that if you do things better on your end (like stepping up and fixing the issue like Psygeek suggests) you probably won't have many things to complain about and you'll probably be a lot more productive and happier than you would have been before.

  11. On 7/22/2018 at 2:49 AM, Hope.for.the.best said:

    In my experience, professors tend to ask questions related to your study, especially on the rationale and limitations. As long as you know your study well and can justify it, you should be fine. You may come across questions that you have not thought about/no answers for. Don't panic. Just thanks for the question/suggestion and indicate that you will look into that in future. This tactic should get you through most of the time. Occasionally, you may then be asked for your thoughts on these difficult questions. In this case, the professor is more like determining whether you can think broader based on your findings/knowledge than giving you a difficult time. Something like, "Based on what we know so far, it might be such and such, which we need to look into further." 

    When I had my defense for my masters back in April this is exactly how my defense went and I passed it just fine so this is great advice.

    I will say though that other people in my department had professors on their committee that were more old school and would also ask you general biology questions (outline the Krebs cycle or tell us the steps of mitosis - apparently they really took the title Masters of Biology seriously and wanted you to be able to regurgitate all kinds of general biology knowledge) so it might not be a bad idea to ask around in the department to see if there are any professors like that that may do that to you.

  12. There's lots of potential questions you can ask and I recommend maybe using the search function on this website to find some other threads where other people have recommended some really great questions. I know I found some when I did this when I was applying.

    Some important questions I can think of are below:

    • What is funding like for the program? What is the stipend and will your tuition be completely waived?
    • Will you have to TA during your program and what kinds of classes and responsibilities will you have as a TA?
    • What kind of research is going on in the department and is it the type of research you want to pursue during your PhD?
    • Related to the previous question: are the professors you are interested in working with taking on new students next fall for whom they would be the main advisor?

    There are lots more questions you can probably ask but I think the above questions are some of the key ones you absolutely need to ask.

  13. To me it sounds like either of the professors you mention as possibilities for your third recommendation sound good. I don't think it would matter too much if the one PI is in an irrelevant field because they can still write a letter about who you are as a worker in a research lab (as long as this PI knows you of course and can write about you as a worker in their lab). As for the other professor who was the instructor of a lab you TAed for they could be a good option because they know how you are as a TA and can write about that. I guess which professor you would choose would depend on whether you want to have two professors who talk about you in a research context (both PIs you mention - current and previous) or if you want to vary it and have a professor who can talk about you as a TA. If the programs you are applying for will require you to TA at any point it might not hurt to have a recommender who can talk about you as a TA but if you will never teach during your program then it might be more beneficial to have more recommenders who talk about you from the research side of things.

  14. On 7/22/2018 at 4:37 AM, schenar said:

    Hearing about my adviser's current projects and works, I thought that I need to catch up a lot in biostat and programming to have proper background knowledge for my future works. That's why I wondered if I could start early on my own, such as learning from a biostat textbook or an online programming course now and during the academic year, but would it still be practical during the semester given the first-year workload and teaching? Thanks for any input!

    So when I started my master's I had basically no stats background and I did end up taking a biostats course my first semester. However, what I learned in that course was not extremely helpful for the types of analyses I ended up doing for my thesis. I honestly didn't really learn my analyses until I had my full data-set collected and could start working with it. Also I was able to learn the most about my analyses on winter and summer breaks when I could dedicate entire days to learning new programs and such so it may be hard to juggle self-teaching yourself the analyses and programming you would like to learn during your first year with having to also juggle your own coursework and teaching.

    Instead if you want to start getting acquainted with the future stats you will be doing I would suggest asking your advisor or a fellow labmate for a data-set that you can use for practice and then try to learn the types of stats you will need on school breaks where you can dedicate entire days and several days in a row to fully immerse yourself in these new methods. That's my suggestion since it worked well for me when I had my data-set so I don't see how it wouldn't work for practice data!

  15. I doubt grad schools will request information about your criminal history from your undergrad school but like you said they will ask you to disclose it in your application and if you do get into grad school and go through a hiring process they could do a background check on you too as well. However, I don't think there is any way that your undergrad school will find out about your offense because you are applying to grad school. Also if they somehow did find out, is it normally their policy to suspend you for a semester? Surely, most undergrad schools have a fair number of students who received DUI offenses and surely not every person that does so is suspended for a semester. At least in my undergrad experience I knew at least 2 people who got DUIs (underage DUIs at that) and they were not suspended.

  16. 49 minutes ago, megabee said:

    Random furniture stores close all the time. You can generally find a good quality, new couch for a significantly reduced price if you seek out those closeout/clearance sales. Used is cheaper than new, obviously, if you're alright with that. A couch also isn't something that you necessarily need to have ready the minute you move in. You can wait a bit, shop around, and hold off on buying for as long as you need (or until you make enough friends that the seating situation becomes embarrassing).

    I hadn't thought of store closing sales - thanks for that good idea! And yeah I don't plan on immediately buying a couch so I will shop around a bit. I have no issue with used furniture normally but I am a bit hesitant about a used couch since I know someone who got bedbugs that way... If I could be guaranteed it didn't have bedbugs I would totally shop used.

  17. I like reading that everyone's tips kinda lined up with what I decided to do for my move. I am also planning on buying a good chunk of my things once I'm in my new city so that's nice to hear that other people agree that that is a good plan. I am however bringing some furniture with me in a moving truck that I didn't want to part with. I have really nice furniture for my bedroom that I got as hand-me-downs and I really didn't want to have to pay to furnish all of those things again (and I think it is cheaper to get a moving truck to bring them with me than buy all of those pieces again). Also it means I don't have to worry about buying a new bed which makes me happy because I sleep like a dream in my current bed! So I suggest if you can afford to move some pieces you really like and are willing to put in the effort to move them then definitely do that! But if buying all new things is most feasible

    Like @iwearflowers and @a_sort_of_fractious_angel, I also suggest watching the rental market to get a good idea of rentals patterns because I think by doing that myself I was able to plan my trip out to my new location at a time that a lot of listings would be available to view for the time period I was wanting to move in. I think doing this is what helped get me an apartment that checked off almost everything I wanted!

    Side note to others that might see this: any suggestions on where to get a couch that is good quality and won't have saggy or mishaped cushions after a year or two that also isn't outrageously expensive (I'm think 500-1200 range is the range I'm expected to spend)?

  18. I've never been worried about being homesick or lonely before but I was never more than a 3 hour car drive back to see my family, but now I'm moving halfway across the country. I'm super excited for the change but also more worried about this move than either of my moves before. I'm definitely going to make a point to build friendships in my new location though and make sure I have things to look forward to outside of school. It's just so nerve-wracking because I'm such a homebody and introvert at times so it does take some effort to put myself out there and try new things. I definitely didn't do that enough during my Master's and will have to change that during my PhD.

    I do know that I will always have my partner and kitties to keep me company at home though so that does ease my nerves. So I too second getting a cat! If you are really ready for a pet of course. They were great to have during my masters because if I had to work a late night in the lab I knew they would be okay. I would love to have a dog some day but I know the schedule I will likely have during a doctoral student will likely not be very feasible for me to have a dog. I also love the flexibility for traveling I have with cats. If I'm only gone a couple days or a weekend I can leave them enough food I know they'll be fine but I know it can get really complicated to travel when you have a dog. So for now I will be perfectly happy with my two cats because I know they can handle my grad student schedule.

    I will also second @Warelin that getting a pet can automatically eliminate a lot of rentals. When I was doing my apartment search in my new location it eliminated so many and I noticed that it eliminated options that were $100-$300 of dollars cheaper a month so that stung. But I'm willing to pay more because there is no way I would ever give up my kitties. But I'm not gonna lie that at least in the housing market I was looking at, pet-friendly housing tended to be more expensive by quite a bit and on top of that they also charged pet rent. It's just a good thing to keep in mind if you do decide you want to get a pet, though perhaps the difference in pricing between pet friendly and non-pet friendly isn't quite as drastic in other housing markets.

  19. I actually responded to a past post about podcasts and I've linked to that post below. I mention quite a few podcasts I really like since I listen to them all the time lol! Story collider is totally one of my faves too! Most of the ones I mention are not about grad school or research but they are really great podcasts! Also I've given a listen the podcast in the title of the other post, Hello PhD, and its pretty good. I haven't listened to it a ton but I have liked what I've listened to so far from them.


  20. I think it depends on your goals after you finish your program. If you plan on becoming a professor or taking on some kind of teaching responsibilities at some point it may be beneficial for you to at least get a couple semester's worth of teaching experience to have on your CV.

    If you do not ever plan on needing any kind of teaching experience it may not be very helpful to take on extra responsibilities you have no obligation to take on. I did not teach during my Master's program and it left me so much more time for my own research obligations.

  21. Nothing hurts in contacting other professors if you have other professors you are interested in contacting, but you should also give those professors who opened the email and didn't respond immediately some more time to respond to that email. It may be that they read your email but currently didn't have time to answer and will reply when they get the time. I know when I contacted professors they usually got back to me within a week but sometimes within 2 weeks. If they take longer than 2 weeks it probably wouldn't hurt to send one follow-up email to see if they possibly just simply failed to see or respond to your first email.

  22. It will probably depend on the program. I had pretty much the exact same situation as you during my applications and two of my schools were completely fine with just the transcript from the university I attended which showed the grade from my study abroad. My third school flagged my transcript as missing for the school my grade was granted through for my study abroad but then I contacted the admissions office and explained what was going on. The admissions office ended up not requiring my transcript from the school I studied abroad through once I explained my situation. However, this was only for one course, so my experience might have been different if I had a whole semester's worth of courses I studied abroad for.

    What I would recommend when it comes time for applications is to contact the admissions department and see if they will need the transcript for your study abroad through Loyola University Chicago that way you don't pay for that extra transcript to be sent if you don't have to.

  23. Honestly I don't think I would worry too much about your GPA, especially if you can get a good GRE score. I think what matters most for ecology programs is the type of research experience and how applicable that experience is to the labs/advisors that you will be applying to work with. In ecology programs you usually have to have an advisor(s) picked out and contact them to see if they are accepting students since most ecology programs require you to say somewhere on your application that an advisor is willing to take you into their lab for the year you are applying for. Some advisors may advertise that they want students with a certain GPA but most are looking for students who have research experience or interests that aligns with the type of research that they do. Typically advisors will want to chat with you/do an interview and if they have any questions about your GPA you could explain it during that process.

    So what I recommend is making sure that there is a lab or multiple labs you are interested in working with at these programs you mention, and then make sure the advisor(s) of those labs will be taking on new students in the following year. I have some tips on how to approach doing that, since I did a ton of that during my program search and would be more than happy to provide you with some tips.

  24. 2 hours ago, baileyarsenic said:

    I'm working on my Master's degree and, after a year of indecisiveness and trying to get things figured out, I feel like I'm falling behind. Unless I really get my act together, it's likely my degree will take me an extra year, and I'm not sure I'll still be funded throughout. 


    Is there a way I can be super effective about time management and graduate in one year?

    Okay as someone who struggled with getting the ball rolling during the first year of my master's, I completely understand how you are feeling right now. I actually took 3 years to get my master's which wasn't what I planned, but I think it allowed me to put together a really good thesis and figure out exactly what type of research I wanted to pursue during my doctorate. So I just want to say that there is no shame in taking a little longer than planned. It sucks but it happens and the extra year's time shouldn't hurt your future prospects.

    As for your funding for a third year, maybe you should ask what would be available to you? Then you can start planning on whether you should try to really crank things out this second year or not. Because if you aren't funded in your third year you should try as hard as possible to finish in a timely fashion. I was lucky to have funding my 3rd year but I probably would have gotten my butt into gear if I knew my funding was running out. If you do find out your funding is ending after your second year it could be the impetus to get the ball rolling.

    As for finishing up during this next year - it does depend on what you have left. Do you have the entirety of your thesis to finish including data collection, and writing, along with classes? If so you might be pushing it. But could you maybe try to graduate at the end of next summer maybe, rather than next May since that may give you enough time? I know that's something students at my school do but I don't know how common it is elsewhere. If you have little to no classes left you might be able to finish within the next year if you have to do a thesis. Honestly try to take as minimally involved and as few courses as possible to leave time for your research and thesis. Of course this is assuming you are doing a thesis - if you only have courses then surely you can finish within a year to year and a half right?

    2 hours ago, baileyarsenic said:

    Additionally, I was elected the President of my department's student group about a month ago. I like what's I'm doing with the student association, it's all about improving the culture in my department. However, it's also a source of stress as people criticize me no matter what decision I make, and it takes up a good chunk of time, which makes it even more likely that I won't graduate on time. The last time I talked about taking a trip to visit my boyfriend, the past president of the student group told me, “You're not going to be able to do that anymore”. I'm not really sure if that's true, but it scared me.

    So my response to this part of your post is coming from someone who gets nothing out of extracurriculars - is there any way you can pass on your role to someone else or minimize the time and effort you have to put into your role? I understand you like it but it does sound like it eats up your time and energy and that will make it difficult to for you to keep moving forward on the other responsibilities for your masters. I would suggest minimizing the actual time you have to put into this group and seeing if other officers for the group can pick up some of your slack.

    Also just ignore what the past president said - as long as you aren't seeing your boyfriend every weekend, and all weekend, I'm sure you are managing your time well enough that you have time for visits along with your other responsibilities.

    2 hours ago, baileyarsenic said:

    If he gets a job in the same city as me, all my problems are solved. But I can't count on that. I don't want to do another year of long distance, much less two :( . We're very serious and have been talking about getting married someday. Do I quit the student group? Do I quit grad school? Do I suffer through two years long distance?

    So for your last 3 questions in this part I would suggest quitting the student group or at the very least minimizing the time you put in like I say above.

    Don't quit grad school! You've already invested a year and it sounds like you might actually be in the mindset to get moving ahead. Also have a conversation with your advisor to understand the timeline you would need to meet to graduate by next May and ask if there is anyway to graduate at the end of the summer. If you are working through this summer on stuff - crank stuff out! At least for me I got tons done during the summers since I had no courses to worry about!

    So I'm really not sure what to say about the long-distance part since that is not something I have any personal experience with but I suggest having a frank conversation with him to figure out what each of you all want to happen in the future. Tell him your concerns of having another 2 years of long distance and see what he says. And like I've said a couple times, just figure out if you will truly need another 2 years or not.

    Good luck! I'm sure you'll figure it out!

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